Housing and Homelessness Strategic Initiative

Break the Cycle of Mass Homelessness in New York


Trinity Church Wall Street’s Housing and Homelessness Initiative seeks to break the cycle of mass homelessness and housing instability in New York City. This initiative advances Trinity’s mission priority to build up our neighborhood by advocating for New Yorkers who find themselves in shelters or who are on the brink of losing their housing. In addition to providing grants* and Program Related Investments, Trinity will use its voice and congregation to promote policy changes and solutions that address housing instability and homelessness.

Mass homelessness has reached an all-time high in New York City, with more than 60,000 people, including 22,000 children—over 25 percent of whom are under the age of five—sleeping in shelters each night, and an estimated 4,000 adults sleeping on the streets and in subways. With over 90 percent of people in the shelter system self-identifying as Black or Latino, there is no denying that homelessness disproportionally impacts communities of color. To address this issue, the Housing and Homelessness Initiative is working in close coordination with Trinity’s Racial Justice Initiative which is committed to dismantling racism by breaking the cycle of mass incarceration.

In response to this crisis, the Housing and Homelessness Initiative seeks to address housing instability and homelessness in New York City by supporting not-for-profits, networks, and coalitions whose work falls within three areas of focus, as described below.

PREVENT: Trinity will promote housing stability, and prevent New Yorkers from falling into homelessness, by supporting the creation and preservation of extremely affordable housing.

Given the loss of affordable housing stock in the last decade and the paucity of housing affordable to extremely low-income New Yorkers, the development and preservation of such units is core to our strategy. Trinity’s aim is to help increase the pace of construction or preservation of extremely affordable units by 20 percent above the rate of recent years. Trinity will also explore ways to better identify and help at-risk New Yorkers from becoming homeless and combatting income-source discrimination that weakens the utility of rental subsidies.

Activities we will support will have the following goals:  

  • Expand access to extremely affordable housing, including supportive housing by:
    • Providing bridge financing, down-payment assistance, and guarantees for affordable housing preservation and development
    • Building capacity for nonprofits to own and operate affordable housing
  • Enable housed, but vulnerable, New Yorkers to stay in their homes by:  
    • Funding research on predictors of homelessness
    • Supporting universal prevention activities to help vulnerable New Yorkers upstream
  • Eradicate discriminatory housing practices and lower the barriers of entry into the housing market for communities of color, including justice-involved individuals and other vulnerable populations.

LEAD: Trinity will help end the cycle of mass homelessness for families.

New York City’s band-aid approach to homelessness, which relies largely on shelter and hotel placements, has failed to reverse the growing crisis. Not surprisingly, while nearly all New Yorkers think more must be done to address homelessness, less than three in ten have hope for improvement. Trinity Church will focus on shifting the narrative towards hope and political commitment to effective solutions, spurring an ambitious, collaborative, public-private effort to stem the tide of family homelessness. Trinity will also invest in innovative financial models that provide near-term impact and the potential to scale up promising approaches.

Activities we will support will have the following goals:  

  • Identify clear, unifying solutions to addressing family homelessness and aligning champions behind a shared solution.
  • Identify and implement solutions that break the cycle of generational homelessness with a focus on children and youth.
  • Support innovative financing approaches to address homelessness that can be scaled.

LIBERATE: Trinity will help end homelessness for justice-involved New Yorkers.

Central to the efforts to end mass incarceration and homelessness is the liberation of people leaving jail and prison. However, after serving their time, returning citizens often encounter barriers to finding employment, obtaining education and training, and securing housing. Trinity seeks to leverage our combined expertise in both the racial justice and housing and homelessness systems to support the holistic needs of returning citizens and center their voices in the movement to end mass incarceration. We will have a deep focus on increasing housing options for New Yorkers who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system. 

Activities we will support will have the following goals:  

  • Expand supportive housing for justice-involved, complex-care homeless New Yorkers.
  • Develop other housing options and services for re-entering New Yorkers.
  • End the continuous punishment for poor people of color with criminal records related to housing, employment, and education.

*While Trinity offers both program grants and general operating support, we strongly encourage organizations that are seeking funding through the Housing and Homelessness Initiative to apply for program grants.